Japan Ask Citizens To Reduce Energy Consumption Amid Record Heatwave

A man films on a street in Tokyo's Ginza district on June 26, 2022. Philip FONG / AFP
A man films on a street in Tokyo’s Ginza district on June 26, 2022.
Philip FONG / AFP


Japan’s government warned Monday of a power crunch as extreme heat hits the country, with temperature records toppling and Tokyo’s rainy season declared over at the earliest date on record.

Temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) were forecast in Tokyo throughout Monday, and the mercury is not expected to drop below 34 until Sunday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The power warning was initially issued for late Monday afternoon, and was subsequently extended to cover the same time on Tuesday, because solar generation dips as the sun sets.

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“We ask the public to reduce energy consumption during the early evening hours when the reserve ratio falls,” Yoshihiko Isozaki, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told a regular press briefing.

But he warned that residents should do what was needed to stay cool and avoid heatstroke.

Much of Japan would normally be experiencing rainy season at this time of year, but the JMA on Monday declared the season over in the Kanto region, home to Tokyo, and neighbouring Koshin area.

It was the earliest end to the season since records began in 1951 and a full 22 days earlier than usual.

The agency also declared an end to rainy season in central Japan’s Tokai and part of southern Kyushu, saying this year’s rainy season in these areas and Kanto-Koshin was the shortest on record.

On Sunday, Isesaki city in Gunma prefecture north of Tokyo logged the hottest temperature ever seen in Japan in June, at 40.2C.

Asako Naruse, 58, was out sightseeing in Ginza alongside pedestrians carrying parasols for shade.

“Every year, July and August are this hot, but it’s the first time I’ve felt such heat in June,” she told AFP.

“I’m from northern Japan, so these temperatures seem really extreme.”

Scientists say record-breaking heatwaves are linked to climate change, which makes extreme weather more common.

The Earth has already warmed 1.1C since preindustrial times and 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.

Japan has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, but it faces criticism for its continued reliance on coal.



Totoro’s Home: Japan Crowdfund For Forest That Inspired Film




A Japanese city is launching a crowdfunding campaign to help preserve a special spot of woodland: the forest that inspired the animator of beloved movie “My Neighbour Totoro”.

The city of Tokorozawa outside Tokyo plans to buy the 3.5-hectare “Totoro Forest” for 2.6 billion yen ($19 million), with crowdfunding covering just a small portion of that, a city official told AFP.

“The area is one of the places that director (Hayao) Miyazaki developed ideas for Totoro after walking there,” the official said, adding that the plan aims to turn the forest into a nature reserve.

The 1988 animation film from Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli features the cuddly but mysterious forest spirit character Totoro, who has become an instantly recognisable figure for fans around the world.

The forest that inspired his home is about 30 kilometres northwest of Tokyo and has some 7,000 oak trees.

Tokorozawa will ask crowdfunding participants to contribute 25,000 yen ($185) and in return, they will receive prints of background artwork offered by Studio Ghibli.

An initial 1,000 sets will be available, targeting donors inside Japan, though additional rounds could be organised if there is interest, the official said.

While the campaign will only cover a small portion of the cost of buying the land, the city is hoping it will bring attention to the forest and build support for its preservation.

Miyazaki, who co-founded Studio Ghibli with Isao Takahata, is known for a string of animated hits, including “Spirited Away”, though Totoro is one of his studio’s most beloved characters.

Int’l Friendly: Super Falcons To Play Japan In October

A file photo of Super Falcons players during a training session in Lagos.


Nigeria’s Super Falcons will take on the senior women’s national team of Japan in an international friendly match at the Noevir Stadium, Kobe on October 6.

The date falls within one of the FIFA Women International Windows for this year.

Nadeshiko Japan, which is the alias of the Women National Team of Japan, are rated 13th in the world, while the Super Falcons are 39th.

Both teams have clashed only once at a competitive level. When they met on August 14, 2004, at the Olympic Women’s Football Tournament, Nadeshiko pipped the Falcons 1-0 at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus.

Two back-to-back friendlies in 2013 were won 2-0 each by the Japanese women’s team.

Japan won the FIFA World Cup in Germany in 2011, beating Team USA in a pulsating penalty shootout after regulation time ended 2-2.

Nadeshiko thus became the first team from Asia to win a senior FIFA World Cup trophy.

The Super Falcons are champions of Africa for a record nine times and have participated at every FIFA Women’s World Cup since the competition began in 1991, reaching the quarter-finals in 1999.

Japan To Allow Mass Tourism, But Only In Tour Groups

PSG 2022 Japan tour. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP)


Japan announced Thursday it will reopen to tourists from 36 countries starting June 10, ending a two-year pandemic closure, but travellers will only be allowed in with tour groups.

The decision comes after the government last week said it would test allowing small group tours with visitors from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore from this month.

On Thursday, the government revised border controls to resume accepting package tours from 36 countries and regions where the Covid situation is relatively stable, it said in a statement.

The countries include Britain, Spain, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia.

Japan will also expand the number of airports that accept international flights to seven, adding Naha in its southern Okinawa prefecture and Chitose near Sapporo in northern Hokkaido.

For most of the pandemic Japan has barred all tourists and allowed only citizens and foreign residents entry, though even the latter have periodically been shut out.

All arrivals have to test negative before travel to Japan and most must be tested again on arrival, though triple-vaccinated people coming from certain countries can skip the additional test as well as a three-day quarantine required for others.

Tour groups are expected to take responsibility for ensuring visitors respect Japan’s near-universal mask-wearing and other measures that have helped keep the toll from Covid-19 comparatively low.

Just how many people will be able to take advantage of the careful reopening is unclear. A daily cap on people entering Japan is to be doubled to 20,000 next month, though tour groups are not expected to be counted in that figure, local media has reported.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he wants to ease border control measures, but moves are expected to proceed slowly, with strong public support for the current restrictions.

Japan welcomed a record 31.9 million foreign visitors in 2019 and had been on track to achieve its goal of 40 million in 2020 before the pandemic hit.

Japanese Man To Repay $360,000 ‘Bit By Bit’ After Subsidy Mix-Up

The hefty lump sum was transferred to a single household last month in a mix-up (AFP/Behrouz MEHRI)



A Japanese man who blew a $360,000 Covid-19 handout at online casinos after receiving the cash in error will pay authorities back “bit by bit”, reports said Wednesday.

“I feel very sorry that I used it up,” the man said according to his lawyer, who told the Yomiuri Shimbun daily that his client had gambled away the money.

The hefty lump sum was transferred last month in a mix-up by officials in the remote town of Abu in western Japan, which had organised a cash handout for low-income residents affected by the pandemic.

Weeks of failure to repay the 46.3 million yen by the man, who is reportedly 24 years old, led authorities to sue him in a desperate attempt to get their money back.

Now, he has made up his mind to “return the money — even if it’s going to be bit by bit,” his lawyer said.

The town says officials at one point even asked the man’s mother to join them in visiting him at work to convince him, but to no avail.

And questions have emerged over whether he is able to pay the money back at all, after the lawyer said his client is now running very low on funds.

Abu’s mayor, Norihiko Hanada, told reporters on Wednesday that he was “honestly happy” about the man’s decision, but said the town is not planning to withdraw its lawsuit.

“That’s one thing, and the lawsuit we’re filing against him is another thing, so I hope that he will tell the truth in court,” Hanada said.

Imahira Secures Place At British Open With Asian Tour Victory

Shugo Imahira of Japan poses after winning the Asia Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup at Oarai Golf Club, Ibaraki Prefecture on May 15, 2022. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT


Japan’s Shugo Imahira secured a place in the 150th British Open at St Andrews later this year as he profited from a late collapse by compatriot Yuto Katsuragawa to win the Asia Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup on Sunday.

Imahira’s one-stroke victory at Oarai Golf Club in Ibaraki, in the Asian Tour’s first event in Japan since September 2019 because of the pandemic, was enough to secure a third career appearance at Open for the Japan Golf Tour professional.

The 29-year-old first played in the British Open at Royal Troon in 2016 and qualified again for Royal Portrush in 2019, but failed to make the cut on both occasions.

His best result in one of golf’s four majors was tied 44th at the 2020 US Masters.

“The Open was my goal at the start of this season,” Imahira told the Asian Tour website.

“My 172 world ranking isn’t good enough to get me into overseas events, so getting into the Open by winning this week is amazing.”

“The goal was to be a major player rather than a prize winner,” he added.

He started the final day one shot behind a leading pack of current Japan Tour money-leader Katsuragawa, Kaito Onishi, Ryuko Tokimatsu and New Zealander Ben Campbell.

Katsuragawa edged ahead in the final round after birdies on the third and seventh holes but came undone with a double-bogey on the 15th.

A bogey on the 17th then handed the lead to Imahira, who had rattled off three birdies and a bogey to card a final-round two-under-par 68 for an eight under-par total of 272.

Katsuragawa could not recover and finished tied second place with Onishi, Hiroshi Iwata and amateur Kosuke Suzuki, who shot the best final round with a remarkable seven-under-par 63 containing seven birdies and an eagle against a lone bogey.

Imahira had five previous wins on the Japanese tour, who co-sanctioned the event, but third-round leader Onishi was looking for his maiden title after turning professional last year.

“I haven’t really performed well this year, so I’m glad I am able to win early,” said Imahira.

Defending champion Rikuya Hoshino was tied for third with New Zealand amateur Kazuma Kobori.

The Diamond Cup was being held at Oarai Golf Club for the first time since 2013, when 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama claimed the title just months after turning professional.

Russia Expels Eight Japanese Diplomats Over Ukraine

A photo combination of the Japanese and Russian flags.


Moscow said Wednesday it was expelling eight Japanese diplomats in a tit-for-tat response to expulsions by Tokyo over the conflict in Ukraine.

Accusing Tokyo of pursuing an “openly hostile anti-Russian course,” the foreign ministry said in a statement that the Japanese diplomats must leave by May 10, in a reciprocal answer to Japan’s expulsion of eight Russian diplomats.

It accused Tokyo of “taking steps that were unprecedented in modern Russian-Japanese relations” and “abandoning friendly, constructive relations with Russia”.

READ ALSORussia Cuts Gas Supplies To Poland, Bulgaria Over Ukraine

Earlier this month Japan expelled the eight Moscow diplomats and announced it will end imports of Russian coal over the military campaign in Ukraine.

Japan has marched in lockstep with Western allies on sanctions against Russia since the start of the conflict on February 24.

Tokyo has complex relations with Moscow, with attempts to sign a post-World War II peace treaty hampered by a long-running dispute over islands that Japan says are “illegally occupied” by Russia.

Russia and the West have imposed a series of tit-for-tat measures over the conflict, including diplomatic expulsions and travel bans.


World’s Oldest Person Dies In Japan At 119

This handout picture taken on September 13, 2021, and provided by Fukuoka Prefectural Government on April 25, 2022, shows the world’s oldest person, Japanese woman Kane Tanaka who was born on January 2, 1903, and died at the age of 119 on April 19, 2022. Handout / Fukuoka Prefectural Government / AFP


A Japanese woman certified the world’s oldest person has died at the age of 119, local officials said Monday.

Kane Tanaka was born on January 2, 1903, in the southwestern Fukuoka region of Japan, the same year the Wright brothers flew for the first time and Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

Tanaka was in relatively good health until recently and lived at a nursing home, where she enjoyed board games, solving maths problems, soda, and chocolate.

In her younger years, Tanaka ran various businesses including a noodle shop and a rice cake store. She married Hideo Tanaka a century ago in 1922, giving birth to four children and adopting a fifth.

READ ALSO: 10 Dead, 16 Missing In Japan Sightseeing Boat Accident

This picture taken on March 9, 2019, and received by Jiji Press on April 25, 2022, shows the world’s oldest person, Japanese woman Kane Tanaka who was born on January 2, 1903 and died at the age of 119 on April 19, 2022. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP



She had planned to use a wheelchair to take part in the torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but the pandemic prevented her from doing so.

When the Guinness World Records recognised her as the oldest person alive in 2019, she was asked what moment she was the most happy in life. Her answer: “Now.”

Her daily routine was described at the time as including a 6:00 am wake-up, and afternoons spent studying mathematics and practising calligraphy.

“One of Kane’s favourite pastimes is a game of Othello and she’s become an expert at the classic board game, often beating rest-home staff,” Guinness said.

Local governor Seitaro Hattori hailed Tanaka’s life after she passed away on April 19.

“I was looking forward to seeing Kane-san on this year’s Respect for the Aged Day (a national holiday in September) and celebrating together with her favorite soda and chocolate,” he said in a statement on Monday.

“I am extremely saddened by the news.”

Japan has the world’s most elderly population, according to World Bank data, with around 28 percent aged 65 or over.

The oldest-ever living person verified by Guinness was Frenchwoman Jeanne Louise Calment, who died aged 122 years and 164 days in 1997.


10 Dead, 16 Missing In Japan Sightseeing Boat Accident

Japanese flag.


At least 10 people were confirmed dead Sunday after a sightseeing boat sank in frigid waters off Japan’s northeast, the coast guard said, with the search continuing for 16 others still missing.

“We have confirmed the deaths of all 10 people” who have so far been retrieved, a coastguard spokesman told AFP.

In a statement, the coast guard added that those found so far had been identified as seven men and three women.

The Kazu I sightseeing boat sent a distress signal on Saturday afternoon after it began taking on water off the remote northeastern tip of Japan’s Hokkaido region.

READ ALSO: Russia Slaps Travel Ban On Kamala Harris, Zuckerberg

A search-and-rescue operation began immediately, but hopes soon began to fade for the 26 people on board, including two children and two crew, because of the cold temperatures in the region.

The boat had set out on Saturday morning on a sightseeing cruise of the sort that is popular in the Shiretoko Peninsula, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site for its pristine natural environment and diverse wildlife.

The tour went ahead despite high winds and waves that reportedly prompted even some local fishing boats to return to shore to avoid the worsening conditions.

“It was clear that the conditions at sea would worsen, so I told them not to go,” a local tour boat operator told NHK. “But they did (went) anyway. I told the captain not to.”

The boat issued a distress call at around 1:15pm (0415GMT) on Saturday, with coast guard helicopters and vessels arriving in the area several hours later.

By nightfall though, as the air temperature dropped to around zero degrees Celsius, there was no sign of either the boat or those aboard, though the search continued overnight with infrared and thermal equipment.

Local police and Japan’s Self Defense Forces have joined the rescue operation, and the first four people from the boat were located early on Sunday, with six more being retrieved in the following hours.

Some were found in the water, while others were spotted along the rugged shoreline, where images from national broadcaster NHK showed rescue workers combing the coast as waves crashed into the shore.

 Icy Shores 

Images released by the coast guard showed rescuers crouched in a crevasse along the rocky shoreline inspecting an area, as well as items clearly marked Kazu I washed up on a beach, with ice still visible on the shore.

Those rescued so far have been taken to hospitals, and NHK showed images of at least one person being transferred from a helicopter to an ambulance with officials holding up a blanket to shield their identity.

The Shiretoko Peninsula was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005. It is well known for its unique wildlife, including the endangered Steller sea lion, as well as migratory birds and brown bears.

Sightseeing boat trips in the area are popular for visitors hoping to spot whales, birds and other wildlife, as well as drift ice in the winter.

Japan’s borders remain closed to tourists because of Covid-19 rules, so sightseeing in the country is effectively limited to residents and Japanese citizens.

The Kazu I ran aground in shallow water in June last year, becoming stranded with 21 passengers and two crew members on board, according to Japanese media.

The boat was able to leave the shallows on its own and returned to the port, but police investigated its captain for endangering traffic by negligence in the conduct of business.

Japan’s coastguard has been involved in a variety of search and rescue missions around the archipelago, including the successful discovery last November of a 69-year-old man who spent 22 hours drifting in open water off southwestern Kagoshima.

In September 2020, a cargo ship with 43 crew onboard sunk after being caught in a typhoon off Japan’s southwest coast.

Two survivors were rescued, while a third crew member was found unresponsive and declared dead. The search operation was called off a week later.


Portugal Beat Turkey, Through To World Cup Qualifying Play-Off Final

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Portugal are through to a decisive World Cup qualifying play-off final next week after beating Turkey 3-1 in Porto on Thursday, but only after Burak Yilmaz missed a crucial late penalty for the visitors.

The home side were cruising at the Estadio do Dragao thanks to first-half goals by Brazilian-born midfielder Otavio and Liverpool forward Diogo Jota.

But Turkey’s veteran skipper Yilmaz pulled a goal back in the 65th minute, setting up a tense finish.

Turkey were then awarded a late penalty when a foul on Enes Unal was detected by the German referee following a VAR review, but Yilmaz put the spot-kick over the bar and Matheus Nunes secured Portugal’s victory in stoppage time.

The 36-year-old Yilmaz may now never get the chance to play at a World Cup as Turkey’s wait to return to the finals goes on.

They have not appeared at the World Cup since coming third in Japan and South Korea in 2002.

Portugal have not missed out on the tournament since 1998 and they will now expect to secure a spot in Qatar when they host North Macedonia in a play-off decider next Tuesday.

At 37, Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream of World Cup glory remains alive and few sides in international football can match the attacking threat of Fernando Santos’s team.

READ ALSO: Italy Miss Second Straight World Cup After Shock Defeat To North Macedonia

Here Santos left Joao Felix on the bench and handed a surprise start to Otavio, the Brazilian-born Porto winger.

The 2016 European champions started strongly and went ahead on the quarter-hour mark as a Bernardo Silva shot hit the post and Otavio, winning just his third cap, netted the follow-up.

The second goal arrived three minutes before the interval at the end of a flowing move, as Otavio clipped a cross from the edge of the box for Jota to head in at the back post.

Portugal were cruising but then Turkey pulled one back in the 65th minute as Cengiz Under slipped a pass in for Lille forward Yilmaz to score.

The home side, missing their first-choice centre-back pairing of Pepe and Ruben Dias due to Covid-19 and injury respectively, began to look shaky and Turkey took advantage.

Jose Fonte’s contact with Unal in the box was initially missed by referee Daniel Siebert but he awarded a penalty after reviewing the images, despite the Turkey player clearly exaggerating the impact of the challenge.

Yilmaz could have forced extra time but his 85th-minute kick grazed the bar and flew over, to the relief of the home crowd.

Substitute Nunes, also born in Brazil, made it 3-1 in the fourth minute of stoppage time, in which all-time top international goal-scorer Ronaldo also hit the bar as Portugal progress.


7.3-Magnitude Quake Hits East Japan, Tsunami Advisory Issued

A picture shows collapsed walls of building following an earthquake in Fukushima, early on March 17, 2022. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT


A powerful 7.3-magnitude quake jolted eastern Japan on Wednesday night, rattling the capital Tokyo and prompting a tsunami advisory for parts of the northeast coast.

The quake, which cut power to more than two million households, was centred off the coast of the Fukushima region at a depth of 60 kilometres (37 miles), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

“Calls have been inundating police and ambulances in Fukushima and (neighbouring region) Miyagi,” top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. “We’re doing our best to assess the extent of the damage.”

Japan’s nuclear authority said no abnormalities were detected at the stricken Fukushima plant that went into meltdown in 2011 when a huge 9.0-magnitude quake hit off the eastern coast, triggering a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster.

READ ALSO: Russia Exits Council Of Europe Over Ukraine Invasion

Shortly after Wednesday’s quake hit at 11:36 pm (1436 GMT) an advisory for tsunami waves of up to one metre was issued for the coasts of Fukushima and Miyagi.

A 20 centimetre tsunami wave was recorded in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi, according to public broadcaster NHK.

TV footage showed some structural damage in the northeast, including the collapse of a stone wall of Aoba castle in Sendai city.

An official in the emergency department of the local government of Ishinomaki told AFP he had been woken by “extremely violent shaking”.

“I heard the ground rumbling. Rather than feeling scared, I immediately remembered the Great East Japan Earthquake,” he said, referring to the 2011 disaster.

A Shinkansen bullet train was derailed north of Fukushima city, train company JR East said, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Matsuno said an emergency government taskforce had been set up and warned residents of possible strong aftershocks over the next week.

“Major aftershocks often happen a couple of days after the first quake, so please stay away from any collapsed buildings… and other high-risk places,” he said.

Multiple smaller jolts hit the region in the hours immediately after the quake.

Around two million households were left without power in the central Kanto region, including 700,000 in Tokyo, electricity provider TEPCO said, but power was being gradually restored in the capital and elsewhere.

In the northeast, 156,000 households lost power, regional energy company Tohoku Electric Power said.

Evacuation orders were issued in some northeastern towns, NHK reported, with Rifu town in Miyagi opening shelters in its official buildings.

– Ring of fire –

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters the government was gathering information on the situation.

“We will commit ourselves to gathering information, do our best to rescue those affected by the (quake) and communicate information appropriately,” he said.

Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

The country is regularly hit by quakes, and has strict construction regulations intended to ensure buildings can withstand strong tremors.

But it remains haunted by the memory of the 2011 undersea quake in northeastern Japan that triggered a deadly tsunami and unleashed the Fukushima nuclear accident.

A minute’s silence was held last Friday, the anniversary of the disaster, to remember the some 18,500 people left dead or missing in the tsunami.

Around the stricken Fukushima plant, extensive decontamination has been carried out, and this year five former residents of Futaba, the region’s last uninhabited town, returned to live there on a trial basis.

Around 12 percent of Fukushima was once declared unsafe but no-go zones now cover just 2.4 percent of the prefecture, although populations in many towns remain far lower than before.


UK Defence Minister Takes A Swipe At Putin, Says He Has ‘Gone Full Tonto’

A handout picture released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) shows Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (C) hosting a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Defence Ministers meeting at at Belvoir Castle near Grantham, central England on February 22, 2022. (Photo by Sgt Jimmy Wise / MOD / AFP)


Russian President Vladimir Putin has “gone full tonto” by ordering his troops into two rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine, Britain’s defence secretary said Wednesday in unguarded comments to military officials.

Ben Wallace made the candid comments suggesting Putin had lost his mind while also comparing the Russian leader to Tsar Nicholas I, who struggled for allies during the Crimean War in the mid-19th century.

“We’ve got a busy adversary now in Putin, who has gone full tonto,” Wallace — a former army officer — told serving personnel in a government building in Westminster, Britain’s Press Association news agency reported.

“Tsar Nicholas I made the same mistake Putin did… he had no friends, no alliances.

“The Scots Guards kicked the backside of Tsar Nicholas I in 1853 in Crimea — we can always do it again,” Wallace, who served in the same regiment, was overheard saying.

READ ALSO: Germany Can Do Without Russian Gas, Minister Says

The minister’s unvarnished assessment came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday said Putin was in an “illogical and irrational frame of mind”.

Asked about Wallace’s reported assessment, Johnson’s official spokesman told reporters: “The defence secretary is more astute to make that judgment than I.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss meanwhile said Putin was “highly likely” to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and attack Kyiv.

Britain and the US have repeatedly cited intelligence as indicating that Moscow is planning such a move.

However, Truss noted London does not yet have “the full evidence” that Russian troops have crossed into Ukrainian territory, including rebel-held areas, calling the current situation “ambiguous”.

– ‘Defensive weapons’ –

Meanwhile in parliament, Johnson confirmed Britain would send further military supplies to Ukraine “in light of the increasingly threatening behaviour” from Russia.

“This will include lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons and non-lethal aid,” he told MPs.

The UK last month deployed some 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Kyiv along with military trainers — who have since left the country — as Western nations stepped up their support for Ukraine.

London is ready to guarantee up to $500 million (£368 million) in loans to Kyiv to promote economic stability and reforms, the foreign office said ahead of Johnson’s comments.

READ ALSO: Gas Prices ‘In God’s Hands’, Producers Warn As Ukraine Crisis Sparks Surge

In December, it increased the amount of financial support available to Ukraine to £3.5 billion and signed a treaty on modernising its navy.

Earlier this month it also announced £100 million in extra assistance to be provided over three years to help the ex-Soviet country boost the economy and reduce dependency on energy imports.

The latest commitments come a day after Britain slapped sanctions on five Russian banks and three billionaires, in what Johnson branded “the first barrage” of measures in response to the Kremlin’s actions.

However, he faced criticism from numerous lawmakers, including from within his ruling Conservatives, that the measures were woefully insufficient.

He and his ministers have insisted tougher measures are set to follow but depend on Moscow’s actions.

Johnson also announced Wednesday that his culture minister had asked media regulator Ofcom to review the UK broadcasting licence of Kremlin-backed television channel RT.

In a leaked letter to Ofcom, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries urged the agency to take “timely and transparent” action against RT, which she warned seeks to spread “harmful disinformation”.

An Ofcom spokesperson confirmed receipt of the letter to AFP, adding: “All licensees must observe Ofcom’s rules, including due accuracy and due impartiality.

READ ALSO: Pope Warns Of ‘Increasingly Alarming Scenarios’ In Ukraine

“If broadcasters break those rules, we will not hesitate to step in. Given the seriousness of the Ukraine crisis, we will examine complaints about any broadcaster’s news coverage of this issue as a priority.”

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit back on Telegram saying “If Britain turns its threat towards Russian media into a reality, retaliatory measures will not take long to come.

“British journalists can ask their German colleagues what this looks like,” she said.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle closed its Moscow bureau at the start of this month after Russia shut the outlet’s local operations to punish Germany for banning a service of a Russian state TV network.